Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Your Mac Ready for Snow Leopard?

So with Snow Leopard just over two months away is your Mac ready? Apple's guidelines for the new OS are fairly simple. Your Mac must have an Intel Processor, 1 Gigabyte of RAM, 5 Gigabytes of free disk space, and a DVD drive to install the disk.

All Intel Macs sold from May 2006 on are all able to run Snow Leopard. Depending on how old your machine is will determine the number new features which you can take advantage. For instance the first Macbooks, and iMacs sold from May - Nov of 2006 had Intel Core Duo Processors which had 32 bit CPU's. You can install and run Snow Leopard and you will get a performance gain but you will not get as dramatic a gain as you would on a 64 bit Mac sold after November 06 which was designated as a Intel Core 2 Duo. The Mac-mini was Intel Core Solo and Core Duo from May 2006 - August 2007.

To check which Processor you have in your computer Click on your Apple Menu, go to About This Mac, and look at the Processor line. If you have PowerPC you can not upgrade to 10.6 Snow Leopard. If you have an Intel Core Duo or Core Solo you can run the upgrade but can't take full advantage of the new 64 bit system.

Also on the next line down it will tell you how much RAM you have in your system remember 1 gig is the minimum. RAM is cheap now and upgrades are fairly simple on most Macs. I would recommend putting in as much RAM as your system can support and you can afford. You can never have too much RAM.

Hard Drive space is important. You need to have at least 5 Gigabytes free to do the installation but once the installation is done you will recover some space on your hard drive. According to Apple’s Specs possibly as much as 6 Gigabytes. Once this is done you can also use a program like Drive Genius 2 to remove the PowerPC code from your Applications and save more space.

Hard Drives are not that expensive anymore and hard drive upgrades on the Mac are fairly straight forward. The newer Macbooks and Macbook Pros pre Uni-body model have a lot of screws to remove to get to the hard drive so be careful and make sure you keep track of the screws. I will cover hard drive replacement in a future post.

For those with Macs that are pre Uni-body it seems the only feature we don't get with Snow Leopard is hardware H.264 decoding. The CPU can handle the decoding but hardware decoders are always more efficient and free up your CPU for other tasks.

For all Intel users this is going to be a good upgrade for improving performance in virtually every area of the system and making small visual enhancements. This is a bargain for the $29.00 price tag as well as getting us ready for whatever Apple has in store for us next with 10.7. in the next 18-24 months after Snow Leopard ships.

If you are on a PowerPC system and are starting to think about an upgrade of your Macbook, Macbook Pro, or Mac-Mini, or PowerMac computer now is the time! The Snow Leopard upgrade will only cost you 9.95 and you can start enjoying the added performance from the newer video cards, faster CPU's, and larger Hard Drives.

If you are on an PowerPC iMac I would wait until after October to upgrade. The rumor is new iMacs will be coming soon and then your machine will ship with Snow Leopard.